Open letter to UQAM administration and François Blais

(French below)

April 23, 2015

To: the UQAM administration and François Blais

Re: Administrative response to student action against austerity

Concordia’s Student Association of Graduates in English (SAGE) condemns the UQAM administration’s recent decision to expel nine of their students. These expulsions came without warning or precedent, and caused animosity and conflict between students and administration.

These students’ actions, though controversial, were a reaction to the brutal austerity measures that have demolished our public sector and left us with an ailing education system. The UQAM administration’s response shows an unwillingness to engage in a dialogue to find solutions to an economic policy that adversely affects all members of universities: students, administration, faculty, and staff alike.

SAGE objects to the UQAM administration’s excessive use of security and police forces in an effort to silence the democratically elected strike mandate of UQAM students. These measures are an unacceptable response to student protest. Given the history of fatal police intervention in protests, and the growing problem of police brutality across North America, we are appalled that UQAM would risk the lives of its students to maintain the integrity of office furniture.

SAGE asserts that no governing body (whether at a university or elsewhere) has the right to intimidate protestors, to refuse to tolerate acts of civil disobedience, to deny the right to strike, or to silence the right to free speech.

We believe that universities should be safe spaces for students to voice their concerns without fear of expulsion, physical threat, or arrest. We believe that in Quebec, the status of universities as places of vital knowledge production and political awareness is being endangered by the shortsighted neoliberal politics of the UQAM administration and Education Minister François Blais.

The UQAM administration should be ashamed of their recent actions. These drastic punitive measures must be reversed as soon as possible.

SAGE calls for an end to the violent interventions of police and security on campus at UQAM, as well as to threats of expulsion.

Sincerely,

SAGE


23 avril 2015,

À l’intention de la direction de l’UQÀM et de monsieur François Blais

En réponse des décisions de l’administration à l’égard des actions des étudiants contre l’austérité

L’Association des étudiants et étudiantes des cycles supérieurs en anglais de l’Université Concordia (SAGE) condamne la récente décision de la direction de l’UQÀM d’expulser neuf de leur étudiants. Ces expulsions se sont faites sans avertissement ni précédent, en plus d’instaurer un climat d’animosité et des conflictuel entre le corps étudiant et l’administration.

Les actions des étudiants, bien que controversées, sont en réaction aux mesures d’austérité brutales qui démantèlent nos institutions publiques et qui causent les difficultés que connaît notre système d’éducation. La réponse de la direction de l’UQÀM démontre un clair manque de volonté à engager un dialogue afin de trouver des solutions à une politique économique qui affecte négativement tous les membres de la communauté universitaires : les étudiants et les étudiantes, la direction, les facultés, ainsi que l’ensemble des employés.

La SAGE s’objecte à l’utilisation excessive des forces policières dans un effort de faire taire des mandats de grèves démocratiquement votés. Ces mesures représentent une réponse tout à fait inacceptable aux protestations. Considérant l’historique d’interventions policières fatales lors de mouvements de contestation, ainsi que et le problème grandissant de la brutalité policière en Amérique du Nord, nous sommes consternées de constater que la direction de l’UQÀM pourrait risquer la vie de ses étudiants afin de préserver l’intégrité de son mobilier.

La SAGE croit qu’aucune autorité (qu’elle soit universitaire ou autre) n’a le droit d’intimider les manifestants, de réprimer les gestes de désobéissance civile, de renier le droit de grève étudiant et de réduire au silence le droit à la liberté d’expression.

Nous croyons que l’université doit être un espace sécuritaire pour les étudiants et étudiantes qui souhaitent exprimer leurs inquiétudes et leurs convictions sans avoir peur d’être expulser, d’être menacé physiquement ou d’être arrêté. Nous croyons qu’au Québec, les universités sont des endroits privilégiés pour la production et de transmission des connaissances, mais également pour la conscientisation citoyenne et politique. Ce statut est toutefois menacé par les politiques néolibérales de courte vue défendue par la direction de l’UQÀM et par le ministre de l’éducation François Blais.

La direction de l’UQÀM devrait avoir honte de ses récentes actions. Les mesures punitives drastiques doivent être renversées aussi tôt que possible.

La SAGE exige l’arrêt des interventions policières violentes et le rétablissement d’un climat sécuritaire à l’UQÀM, ainsi que le retrait des menaces d’expulsion.

Cordialement,

L’Association des étudiants et étudiantes des cycles supérieurs en anglais de l’Université Concordia

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EGA result: SAGE’s decision on the topic of striking and other measures

Dear Graduate Students,

The SAGE Emergency General Assembly called by a member of the cohort convened at 4 pm on Tuesday, March 31. Thirty members of the cohort attended the meeting in LB 659 in order to discuss anti-austerity measures and to determine SAGE’s position at this time.

Six motions, with one divided into two sections, were voted upon after a measured discussion. The results are as follows:

  1. SAGE voted in favour of a social media intervention, with a limited task force.
  2. SAGE voted in favour of creating a broadly mandated strike committee to assess the larger academic, economic, and political climate.
  3. SAGE voted in favour of standing in solidarity with UQaM students threatened with expulsion following student demonstrations. This is a condemnation of administrative actions, but not an endorsement of specific student disruptions.
  4. SAGE voted in favour of a motion denouncing austerity measures at Concordia, and committing SAGE to draft an open letter to that effect; to work with members of CASE, faculty, and other members of the English Department; and to have representation at the anti-austerity demonstration scheduled for April 2 in solidarity with currently striking student groups.
  5. However, parts of the preamble which denounced strike actions were separated from the original motion and voted down.
  6. SAGE voted in favour of a one-day strike on April 2 in solidarity with other  striking student groups. Additionally, SAGE will have another assembly to decide on future striking options (this motion will be discussed on our Spring GA; see below).
  7. However, SAGE voted against a one-week, renewable strike.

SAGE has made their voices heard and is committed to those motions voted for on March 31st.

These issues and more will be further discussed at SAGE’s Spring General Assembly to be held on Tuesday, April 7 at 12 pm in LB 659.

The English Department has announced the cancellation of all classes Thursday, April 2. Please read the message from the Provost.

Best,

SAGE Council

Agenda SAGE AGA 2015

March 31 SAGE Emergency GA Minutes

Spring General Assembly

The SAGE Spring General Assembly will take place on Tuesday, April 7 at 12 pm in LB 659.

The SAGE Spring General Assembly will be a year-end review of what has happened and what has been spent during the school year. There will be a report from the Budget Committee, Headlight Anthology, and the English Graduate Colloquium Committee. There will also be a vote on the changes/additions to the SAGE By-laws, and a discussion of further anti-austerity measures in the wake of the April 2 strike. Last but not least, there will be a formal call for nominations for some positions in a new SAGE Council for the 2015-2016 school year.

The Spring GA Agenda, last GA meeting minutes, and the new SAGE By-laws will be circulated by email and will be posted on our website.

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Agenda SAGE AGA 2015

October 21 SAGE minutes

SAGE General By-laws March 26 2015

Emergency General Assembly March 31

Due to interest, the Student Association of Graduates in English has elected to hold an Emergency General Assembly on the issue of striking or taking other actions

The EGA will take place on Tuesday, March 31 at 4 pm in LB 659.

The EGA will be open to all graduate students enrolled in the Department of English (creative and academic streams).

The agenda will be circulated via email and will be posted on the SAGE website.

If graduate students feel strongly about issues that may be raised at the General Assembly, it is of high importance that they attend, as a vote on any issues will affect the cohort as a whole, whether they are present to vote or not.

Quorum for the GA is 10 people.

Voting will be by secret ballot.

Please share this information with your friends in the Department.

March 31 Emergency General Assembly Agenda

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